Tim Cook thinking.
Apple could have saved a five-year-old's life just by using its patents. Image: ExtremeTech.

Apple has received a formal lawsuit regarding a car accident that took place on December 24, 2014. A driver rear-ended a vehicle in front of him at high speed and caused the death of a 5-year-old girl. He was using the FaceTime app on his iPhone 6 Plus while driving.

The lawyers working for the victim’s family are now suing the Cupertino company because, according to their claims, Apple possessed technology that could have prevented this tragedy but did not implement it.

Court documents use an old Apple patent application as proof for their claims. In 2008, the tech giant introduced a filing for a ‘lockdown’ feature that would stop drivers from using FaceTime while on the road. The patent received approval in 2014.

Apple could have prevented the accident

The plaintiffs are Bethany and James Modisette, from Texas, who were in the car with their two children when the distracted driver rammed into them at 65mph.

Their vehicle was not moving because of the traffic, so they received the full rear impact of the 20-year-old distracted driver’s vehicle. Both of them and their two daughters sustained severe injuries, but Moriah, one of the sisters, died of her wounds on the way to the hospital.

The Modissettes believe that it was Apple’s responsibility to prevent these kinds of tragedies by implementing the FaceTime lockdown, which the company has not yet featured on any of its handsets.

The distracted driver had a FaceTime call in progress when first responders arrived at the scene and later confessed to the police that he had been using the app while driving.

Texas does not punish drivers for using smartphones on the road

The full court filing for the case, registered in court a week ago, states that Apple failed to fulfill its responsibility despite having “both the technology since 2008 and a patent on that technology so it could exploit its patent without competition for 20 years.”

The document also claims the perpetrator’s driving conduct is “inextricably intertwined” with Apple’s failure to provide a FaceTime lockdown. It also adds that, for the company, the cost of this modification would be minimal.

The Modissettes are seeking damages, medical expenses, and other types of reparations from Apple, but the suit does not require them to implement the lockdown technology.

The State of Texas does not have any regulatory laws concerning driving and cellphone use for drivers over eighteen years old.

Source: Apple Insider